The almond tree is a deciduous species that blooms much earlier than its fruit-bearing counterparts. Closely related to the peach tree, the almond tree prefers warmer climates with cool winters. It does not tolerate frost and freezing temperatures well, especially during its blooming period. Lacking the ability to self-pollinate, a successful harvest requires more than one variety.
Watch your tree’s blooming process. The flowers will begin the production of the fruit. The leaves will grow and fruit will begin to appear on the tree. The fruit will look similar to peach fruit, displaying the same shape, fuzzy feel and initial color. You will see the hull of the fruit begin to develop. This is what you will harvest when the time is right.
Splitting of the hull will begin to occur. This is a slow process that usually starts in July and August. The hulls will continue to grow and harden. The hardened hulls will slowly begin to split between mid-August and late October. Check the hulls often to follow their progress, but little maintenance will be required. As the hull splits, it will slowly begin to show its shell.
Splitting and hardening of the hull will continue as the nut ripens. During this process, the nut will also begin to dry. This drying process will accelerate as the hull’s split widens.
Harvest your almonds once the hulls open completely. Make sure that the almonds are ready by inspecting hulls from every side of the tree. Prepare the ground for harvest by sweeping away debris. Make sure the ground is dry.
Shake the tree gently or thrash the branches to remove the almonds. Many professional harvesters use a machine to do this, but it is just as efficient to remove the almonds by shaking or thrashing. Harvest when the weather is forecast to be sunny and dry. Remove as many of the almonds from the tree as possible. Once the almonds have dropped, leave them on the ground to dry. They will require one or two days to dry. The drying process is complete when the nuts rattle in their shells and the kernel snaps instead of bending.
Sweep the dried almonds from the ground and place them into a container. Remove the shells from the hull, then remove the nuts from the shell. Only the meat of the almond should be left. Discard the hulls and shells or donate them to a cattle farmer. Cattle farmers often mix hulls into cattle feed for added nutrition. Store your almonds in a cool, dry location.